Poverty rate in US outrageous

truther December 16, 2011 0
A report by the US Census Bureau reveals that half of the country’s population has fallen into poverty or is scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

Based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau more than ninety seven million Americans are considered to have low-income, defined as between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level.

Another 49.1 million Americans live below the poverty line, meaning 146.4 million Americans, or 48 percent are considered low-income or poor.

Meanwhile, according to a Governance Metrics International survey, American CEOs saw pay increases of between 27 percent and 40 percent last year.

Analysts believe the incredibly unequal top-down distribution of wealth in the US has formed an elite group who controls most aspects of the country’s affluence.

Press TV talks with Brent Budowsky, a columnist with The Hill newspaper, to discuss the issue further. Below is the text of the interview.

Press TV: The latest census data indicate that nearly 1 in 2 Americans are either poor or are scraping by, on earnings that classify them as low income. At the same time the number of Americans on food stamp has risen to a record high of 45.8 millions. It seems the government’s safety net have become ineffective in stopping this trend?

Budowsky: Well, there are too many poor people; there is not enough help for poor people; there is not enough jobs; there is not enough policies to create jobs and even at this exact minute, we are fighting in Washington to try to keep unemployment benefits for the jobless which will otherwise expire and some of the Republicans are trying to either delay or defeat unemployment insurance compensation or they want to attach more things that will help the one percent –who are the most wealthy. What we need to do is have far stronger programs, far stronger, to create jobs, to improve and strengthen, not weaken, the safety net.

I would add that it is also a phenomenon that is going on in Europe; I do not agree with what the Central Banks and governments are doing in Europe. It is not a good time to be throwing more Europeans out of work, not a good time to be throwing more Europeans under the safety net; it is not a good time to be providing literally trillions of dollars to the bankers in the United States and in Europe, while they are cutting programs that create jobs. The other problem we have in the US is that a lot of the states now we have conservative Republican governors and they are cutting state benefits to the poor while we are having trouble getting benefits to the poor passed or jobs programs in Washington. It is wrong; it is bad; it is damaging; it is inexcusable; it is a part of global problem; it is an outrage in the United States that one out of two people will either be poor or almost poor and we need to do something about it dramatically and soon.

Press TV: Now let’s look at the other side of the coin in the US. According to a Governance Metrics International survey, the median value of CEOs profits on stock options, jumped to 1.3 million from 950,400 USD — a 70 percent boost. Are we talking about two Americas that is widely divided?

Budowsky: It is absolutely outrageous. I will say the Time magazine this week named protesters as their ‘people of year’ and it is everybody from the Arab spring to Occupy Wall Street. One thing that Occupy Wall Street has done — and I have been supporting them all along and do — is we are finally beginning a debate in America about the one percent who have almost all of the wealth and the 99 percent who are either poor or paying the price for those who have the wealth in the one percent. It was interesting the Time magazine would make that their person of the year. This is a battle that has only just begun in the US. It is a moral battle of the first order and its economic common sense. If all you have is rich people, even the rich will become poor and the poor will die and no decent country or world should ever allow that.

Press TV: And you mentioned a battle that has just begun but surely for the US administration, this obviously is something that has mounted over the years. Surely they must have been aware of what is going on. Why is it that they have not tackled the problem or have applied successful strategies of any kind in order for it not to reach the point that it has?

Budowsky: I will give you the honest answer. I support the president. I was an early supporter of President Obama in 2007. He means well but he has not fought really hard enough. He spent about a year and a half to two years moving to the right and trying to work with Republicans when they would never worked with him and we lost invaluable time. The president is trying to come back; he has been giving some speeches and beginning to fight. He needs to fight much harder; he needs to stand stronger; he needs to take our case to the country, to the American people, to every church and to every religion and to every community and to everyone in 99 percent.

But the honest answer to your question is we have not had the kind of courageous leadership of the president or Democrats that we should have we are now beginning to get that from the president and that is why I say the fight has only just begun. It should have begun a lot longer ago but it did not.

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